Surviving Bushfires

In rural areas bushfires are a real threat, especially in the hot summer months and, while bushfires are a necessary part of the environment to promote new growth, they can easily get out of hand and threaten lives as many people in the rural areas or ‘bush’ will attest.

Here are some tips for coping with a bush fire in your area.

1. In all cases take follow the instructions of the emergency services and fire brigade.

2. Have a bushfire response plan for what to do in the event of a bush fire in your area. Make sure your family are fully aware of the plan and know what to do.

3. Drill the plan or ‘practice’ it so that it becomes second nature and little or no thinking is required when or if it comes time to implement the plan.

4. Ensure you have emergency kits available including first aid and burn salves. If you can get them gas masks are useful for keeping out smoke. More people die from smoke inhalation than from the actual fire.

5. For property ensure there is plenty of water available. Hosing down the building(s) can help to reduce fire damage and heat. Check that your building has sprinklers in working order.

For businesses and farms in the rural area, here are some tips for a useful bushfire response plan

1. Prepare your business premise to reduce fire risk.

2. Make sure there are emergency kits which include first-aid and supplies for up to three days.

3. Ensure the kits are within easy reach and NOT locked up and that employees know where they are.

4. Ensure you have staff that have first-aid qualifications and keep their training up to day as needed.

5. Maintain an easily viewed list of contact details for staff members, including their emergency contact person Also, once you have filled in these documents, store them electronically, e.g. Dropbox.

6. A bushfire response and emergency plan.

7. Regular fire drills, at least once a month, should be undertaken with all personnel in attendance and knowing what their role is.

8. Your plan should also include:

a. Who will be in charge and who is the deputy.

b. The established evacuation routes and assembly points which of course should be drilled so all staff know them.

c. Provision to handle and assist unfamiliar personnel such as tourists, visitors, cultural and linguistic groups.

d. Plan how basic admin will continue, payroll arrangements, especially if people are stood down due to damage and unable to work in an area, leave arrangements, checking the business assets after a fire for insurance and other purposes.

Very often areas prone to bushfires have regular community meetings and it is a good idea to attend those and participate in them.

It is important to stay informed at all times and be prepared!

There are weather apps these days one can have on your phone to alert you of fires and floods in your area.

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